Modeling Minority Stress Effects on Homelessness and Health Disparities among Young Men Who Have Sex with Men
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- Bruce, D., Stall, R., Fata, A. et al. J Urban Health (2014) 91: 568. doi:10.1007/s11524-014-9876-5
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Sexual minority youth are more likely to experience homelessness, and homeless sexual minority youth report greater risk for mental health and substance abuse symptoms than homeless heterosexual youth, yet few studies have assessed determinants that help explain the disparities. Minority stress theory proposes that physical and mental health disparities among sexual minority populations may be explained by the stress produced by living in heterosexist social environments characterized by stigma and discrimination directed toward sexual minority persons. We used data from a sample of 200 young men who have sex with men (YMSM) (38 % African American, 26.5 % Latino/Hispanic, 23.5 % White, 12 % multiracial/other) to develop an exploratory path model measuring the effects of experience and internalization of sexual orientation stigma on depression and substance use via being kicked out of home due to sexual orientation and current homelessness. Direct significant paths were found from experience of sexual orientation-related stigma to internalization of sexual orientation-related stigma, having been kicked out of one’s home, experiencing homelessness during the past year, and major depressive symptoms during the past week. Having been kicked out of one’s home had a direct significant effect on experiencing homelessness during the past 12 months and on daily marijuana use. Internalization of sexual orientation-related stigma and experiencing homelessness during the past 12 months partially mediated the direct effect of experience of sexual orientation-related stigma on major depressive symptoms. Our empirical testing of the effects of minority stress on health of YMSM advances minority stress theory as a framework for investigating health disparities among this population.